American Express Credit Cards and Charge Cards

John Ganotis

John Ganotis

Updated Jun 19, 2019

Within the Credit Card game, it’s no surprise that a name as established as American Express comes ready to play with 18 different types of cards to choose from.

The company prides itself on offering 24/7 world-class customer service, exceptional security to keep your personal finances well, personal, and protect you from fraud, as well as a wide range of card acceptance so you never have to worry about your card being declined.

If you’re considering an American Express credit card, the main problem you may have is deciding which is the best fit for your personal financial goals.

Cash Back

American Express issues three personal credit cards that can earn you cash back through regular use. Each card has its own set of guidelines regarding what will earn you cash back, so choosing the right pick for you will come down to where you spend the most in your daily life. All three cards offer a 0% intro variable APR so you can test them out with little risk while still earning rewards.

With unlimited cash back on all purchases and the ability to customize your payment plan on larger purchases, the American Express Cash Magnet® Card (Review) is an ideal option for beginner cash back credit card users. You can easily redeem your cash back as ‘rewards dollars’ that can be received in the form of a statement credit, gift cards, or merchandise.

Spending Rewards
  • Unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • $175 statement credit for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

 

Key Features:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase rate and transfer info: 0% intro APR for 15 months, then 15.24%-26.24% variable APR
  • Plan It Options: flexible payment plans

Unlike the Cash Magnet card, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review) has an annual fee of $95. Don’t let this scare you off, however, as this card packs a punch in terms of rewards. Although there are some caps on how much you can earn back annually for certain purchases, the 6% back on grocery stores and streaming services as well as 3% back on transit and gas station transactions will still earn you back a significant share.

Spending Rewards
  • Earn 6% back on:
    • U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 (then 1% back)
    • Select streaming subscriptions (unlimited)
  • Unlimited 3% back on:
    • Transit purchases
    • Gas stations
  • Unlimited 1.5% back on all purchases

Introductory Bonus Offer

  • $300 statement credit for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

Key Features:

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Purchase rate and transfer info: 0% intro APR for 12 months, then 15.24%-26.24% variable APR
  • Supports accelerated cash back

The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) is the happy medium of the three cash back credit cards American Express offers. Similar to the Cash Magnet card, you’ll never have to worry about an annual fee. Although you’ll earn less back on your purchases than you would with the Blue Cash Preferred Card, 3% back at U.S supermarkets and 2% back at gas stations and department stores is still a considerable amount.

Spending Rewards
  • Earn 3% back on:
    • U.S supermarkets on up to $6,000 (then 1% back)
  • 3% back at:
    • Department stores
    • Gas stations
  • Unlimited 1% back on all purchases

Introductory Bonus Offer

  • $175 statement credit for spending $1,000 in the first 3 months after account opening

 

 

Personal Charge Cards

On the high end, Amex offers several charge cards. A charge card is designed to be paid in full every billing period. These cards all have annual fees, and earn Membership Rewards® points.

They’re all geared around earning rewards on travel spending, especially when you book travel through the American Express Travel website (AmexTravel.com). Since they earn Membership Rewards® points, they also generally give you the most rewards value when you use points for travel expenses. These cards also tend to come with generous introductory bonuses if you spend a certain amount within the first few months of card membership.

Card Annual Fee Points Per Dollar
The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review) $550
  • 5X on:
    • Flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel
    • Eligible prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel
  • 1X on all other purchases
American Express® Gold Card (Review) $250
  • 4X at:
    • U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent per year, then 1X)
    • Restaurants worldwide
  • 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel
  • 2X at U.S. gas stations (former Premier Rewards Gold Card users only)
  • 1X on all other purchases
American Express® Green Card (Review) $95, $0 first year
  • 2X on eligible purchases from Amex Travel
  • 1X on all other purchases

The main differences between these cards are in the rewards earning potential and the benefits. The Platinum and Gold cards are pretty expensive but they’re also quite valuable compared to most cards. On the lowest end of these cards, the Green Card is the only one that has a foreign transaction fee.

The Platinum Card is clearly designed for the most frequent travelers. It comes with a $200 airline fee credit, and access to Amex’s global lounge collection, which includes several brands of airport lounges. Another benefit is the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, which offers complementary perks at hotels around the world. The Platinum Card also comes with Uber VIP Status and $200 in statement credits good for Uber rides in the United States.

The Gold Card is designed for foodies, and is very rewarding at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide. It comes with a $120 annual dining credit, which is only good at a few restaurants and food delivery services. It’s also a solid pick for travel, with a $100 airline fee credit and access to The Hotel Collection by Amex.

Personal Credit Cards

There are two families of American Express personal credit cards, with two cards in each:

  • Blue Cash cards, which earn cash back
  • EveryDay cards, which earn Membership Rewards points

These cards are mostly designed to earn rewards for spending at supermarkets, gas stations, and a few other categories. There’s one other personal credit card which is more like a relic of the past, and doesn’t currently fit into a family:

All of these cards have 2.7% foreign transaction fees.

Blue Cash Cards: For Cash Back

There are two cards in the Blue Cash family. They earn cash back rather than Membership Rewards® points, with higher cash back at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. gas stations, and some U.S. department stores.

Card Annual Fee Cash Back
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Review) $95
  • 6% for:
    • U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%)
    • Select U.S. streaming services
  • 3% for:
    • U.S. gas stations
    • Transit
    • Select U.S. department stores (former cardholders only, until 7/31/19)
  • 1% for all other purchases
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (Review) $0
  • 3% at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1%)
  • 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% for all other purchases

EveryDay and Blue Cards: For Membership Rewards Points

The two EveryDay cards and the Blue card earn Membership Rewards points. The EveryDay cards offer bonus points for using them frequently, and the basic Amex EveryDay card (not the Preferred) is the only American Express card with no balance transfer fee, which is relatively uncommon among credit cards in general, but can be found on several other cards that are favorable to balance transfers.

Card Annual Fee Points Per Dollar
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card (Review) $95
  • 3X at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1X)
  • 2X at U.S. gas stations and Amex Travel
  • 1X on all other purchases
  • 50% point bonus if you make at least 30 purchases in a billing period
Amex EveryDay Credit Card (Review) $0
  • 2X at:
    • U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year, then 1X)
    • Amex Travel
  • 1X on all other purchases
  • 20% point bonus if you make at least 20 purchases in a billing period
Blue from American Express® $0
  • 1X for all purchases

Co-Branded Credit Cards

American Express partners with many different companies to offer co-branded cards. They have several hotel cards designed for spending at Hilton that earn Hilton Honors points, and a couple for Marriott hotels. They also offer a range of airline cards with Delta that give you bonus miles if you spend a certain amount within a few months of account opening.

Hilton Hotels

Card Annual Fee Benefits
Hilton Honors Aspire Card $450
  • Diamond Hilton Honors Elite Status
  • $100 repeating Hilton credit
  • $250 annual Hilton Resort credit
  • $250 annual airline fee credit
  • Unlimited airport lounge access
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card (Review) $95
  • Gold Hilton Honors Elite Status
  • 10 annual airport lounge visits
Hilton Honors American Express Card $0
  • Silver Hilton Honors Elite Status

Marriott Hotels

If you stay at Marriott hotels frequently, these cards can be very valuable.

Delta

There’s a wide range of Delta-branded cards that will give you extra points on each Delta purchase you make. The lowest-end Blue Delta SkyMiles card is the only one with no annual fee, but also the only one with a foreign transaction fee. The highest-end card, the Delta Reserve, comes with lounge access and extra benefits. The main difference among these cards is rewards-earning potential.

Card Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee
Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express $450 None
Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (Review) $195, $0 first year None
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express $95, $0 first year None
Blue Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express $0 2.7%

About American Express

American Express, also known as Amex, offers a variety of credit cards and charge cards. Their many rewards cards are generally designed for people with great credit. If you’re looking for a new card, American Express may have one that’s a good fit for you. Most American Express cards have an annual fee, but a few don’t. Some have foreign transaction fees.

Amex is known for excellent customer service compared to other credit card issuers. In 2017, they placed first in J.D. Power’s annual Credit Card Satisfaction Survey. Since this annual survey started in 2007, American Express has always come in either first or second.

Many American Express cards earn Membership Rewards® points. These can be redeemed for gift cards, or they could be transferred to a partner loyalty program as airline miles or hotel points. They can also be redeemed for statement credits, but you’ll get less value per point if you redeem that way.

American Express also offers a strong lineup of business credit cards and charge cards. These small business cards are marketed under the OPEN brand. If you’re interested in those, check out our overview of Amex business cards here.

Amex Benefits

American Express may provide some of the following features with their cards:

  • Complimentary ShopRunner Membership: Provides free two-day shipping and returns at participating online retailers.
  • Purchase Protection: If an eligible item you buy is lost or damaged, you can get reimbursement as a card member.
  • Extended Warranty: Eligible manufacturer’s warranties can be extended by a certain amount.
  • Global Assist Hotline: Call for help when traveling 100 miles or more from home.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Provides coverage in case of an accident while traveling by common carrier.
  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: Provides coverage for rented vehicles against collision damage and theft, as long as the rental company’s insurance is declined.
  • Fraud Protection: You won’t be held liable for fraudulent purchases made to your card account (contact customer support immediately if you suspect fraud).
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